There once was a girl full of hope. The people who loved and cherished the girl nourished her hope with promises that things would get better. But things only got worse and the girl fell into despair.
I commend the gay and lesbian community for taking a stand with the, It Gets Better Project for teens unable to envision a future as an openly gay adult. I wish the same concept could be applied to all victims of bullying.
The "things will get better" concept while sweet is an old-fashioned way of dealing with a new form of assault. While statistics show a misleading drop in school violence, psychological abuse of both girls and boys is on the rise. Thus far, the evidence shows that tolerance doesn't get better with maturity and the bully mentality doesn't stop with children.
All around the web, I've been reading reactions to anti-bullying laws, and it's becoming obvious adults can't even behave maturely, so how can I lie to my child that things will get better. Many comments lay the blame on the victim as being weak, and victims need to "grow a pair" and fight or remain a victims.
Even more disgraceful, I found the medical profession is the leader in workplace bullying. Following a September 30th 2010 article about bullying in the nursing profession, a poll was taken...1029 nurses responded they had been bullied in the workplace compared to only 34 who said they experienced none.
The poll continues to rise as the 811 comments about bullying professionals becomes more volatile. After one nurse called another a brat and a troll, the offended responded, "I am nothing CLOSE to a troll.....I'm sure YOU are though, you washed up old B#$%&!!!"
I'm not at all shocked because I was one of the 1029 poll victims who had been bullied. I was harassed for being too young, too cute, even too hardworking because it makes lazy coworkers look bad. I finally left the profession all together years ago, obviously things have not changed.
Learn from my mistakes. What I'm about to share comes my experience alone. It may be of some minor use to parents, but do consult with your child's advocate, therapist, or pediatrician for additional interventions and information.
I advise parents to press the school into action from the on start. Don't wait. Things will not get better in the third grade when kids are older, or in a new district middle school where they'll meet new friends, or in high school where kids are more mature. Bullying continues in college and the workplace so, we need to prepare our children.
But prepare them not with clever comebacks and self-defense lessons, build their support systems and help them restore their self-esteem. There are research-based programs to help you do this. I just found out the peer-mentoring program (recommended by the school) was not a research-based intervention and when researched the program, it was found to be more harmful than helpful in the secondary grades.
Don't assume the sympathy you receive when reporting incidents of bullying will bring about change. The needs of non-violent victimized children quickly take a back seat to more urgent cases involving physical abuse. Be persistent.
Start documenting incidents of bullying with dates, names of the people you or your child reported to, your child's reaction, and what was done.
For parents and others involved in children's lives, know some signs of victimization. Bullying is often underreported by the child for fear of retaliation, especially, if reporting abuse was ignored in the past. The child might also experience some of these subjective signs. Note: Torn clothes and brusing are only signs of physical bullying, which is becomming less frequent.
Are there happy endings?
There once was a girl who moved awkwardly because she had cerebral palsy. She lost all hope for a "normal" teen life after years of being targeted and shunned by her peers. She was nearly destroyed.
But she is getting better and so is her life.